Isabella Street

From Pittsburgh Streets
Isabella Street
Neighborhood North Shore

Isabella Street appears in the 1830 map of Jean Barbeau and Lewis Keyon.[1]

Bob Regan includes "Isabella" in a list of streets named for noted historical people, but with no further details.[2] It is not clear who is meant—perhaps Regan thought of Queen Isabella I of Castile (1451–1504), who, with her husband Ferdinand II, unified Spain and supported Christopher Columbus's 1492 expedition to the New World. However, there is no evidence for such a connection, and it is probably more likely that the street was named for someone local. Unfortunately, so far I have been unable to find a plausible candidate.

In the 1830 map, Isabella Street appears in a plan of lots labeled "McDonald."[1] The land had originally been out lots 37 and 38 in the Reserve Tract, surveyed by David Redick in 1787.[3] The out lots were subdivided into smaller lots, and several streets and alleys were laid out, by John McDonald in March 1830.[4] This was probably the attorney John McDonald, the only person by that name listed in Samuel Jones's 1826 Pittsburgh directory.[5]

John McDonald was born on July 1, 1781, in Washington County, Pennsylvania, the third son of John and Martha Noble McDonald.[6][7] He entered Jefferson College (then called Canonsburg Academy) in 1800 and graduated from there in 1904.[6][7] He married Mary Morrow in 1804.[6] He read law under James Ross (eponym of Ross Street) and was admitted to the bar in 1807.[6][7] He was elected president of the Bank of Pittsburgh in 1829.[6][8] McDonald died in Pittsburgh on May 20, 1831.[6][8][9][7] After his death, a notice placed in the Pittsburgh Gazette by his executors advertised for sale "a great variety of LOTS in Birmingham and Allegheny-Town."[10]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Jean Barbeau and Lewis Keyon. Map of Pittsburgh and Its Environs. N. B. Molineux, Pittsburgh, 1830. Historic Pittsburgh DARMAP0576; [view source]barbeau
  2. Bob Regan. The Names of Pittsburgh: How the city, neighborhoods, streets, parks and more got their names, p. 63. The Local History Company, Pittsburgh, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9770429-7-5. [view source]regan
  3. Reserve Tract of Land Opposite Pittsburgh. L. J. Richards & Co., 1863. Historic Pittsburgh DARMAP0084. Reprinted in Dan Rooney and Carol Peterson, Allegheny City: A history of Pittsburgh's North Side, pp. 2–3, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 2013, ISBN 978-0-8229-4422-5 (LCCN 2012047727). A variation entitled City of Allegheny 100 Years Ago is reprinted in Allegheny City Society, Allegheny City, 1840–1907, pp. 10–11, Images of America, Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, S. C., 2007, ISBN 978-0-7385-5500-3 (LCCN 2007927944). [view source]reserve-tract
  4. Mercer v. Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railroad, 36 Pa. 99 (1859). In Pennsylvania State Reports: Comprising cases adjudged in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, vol. XXXVI, pp. 99–104, Kay & Brother, Philadelphia, 1861 (Google Books O_8_AAAAYAAJ). [view source]mercer-v-pfwc
  5. Samuel Jones. Pittsburgh in the Year Eighteen Hundred and Twenty-Six: Containing sketches topographical, historical and statistical; together with a directory of the city, and a view of its various manufactures, population, improvements, &c. Johnston & Stockton, Pittsburgh, 1826, p. 133. PGH_ALLEGH1826_CDM; Historic Pittsburgh 31735056290285; Internet Archive Pgh1826. [view source]jones
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Milton M. Allison. "Robinson Run Sketches: III. Pioneers John and Martha McDonald." Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, vol. 36, no. 1, Mar. 1953, pp. 37–51. [view source]allison
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 The Twentieth Century Bench and Bar of Pennsylvania, vol. 2, p. 814. H. C. Cooper, Jr., Bro. & Co., Chicago, 1903. Google Books JkRGAQAAMAAJ; Internet Archive twentiethcentury02chic, twentiethcentury02unse_0. [view source]twentieth-2
  8. 8.0 8.1 History of Pittsburgh and Environs, vol. 2, p. 291. American Historical Society, New York and Chicago, 1922. Google Books 3staAAAAYAAJ, TPUMAAAAYAAJ; HathiTrust 011262563; Internet Archive historypittsbur00yorkgoog, historypittsbur02socigoog. [view source]history-pgh-environs-2
  9. "Died." Pittsburgh Gazette, May 24, 1831, [p. 3]. 96050895. [view source]mcdonald-obit
  10. Joseph Patterson and Stephen Colwell. "Notice.—All persons indebted to the estate of John M'Donald, Esq. late of the city of Pittsburgh, deceased, are requested to make payment to the subscribers; and all persons having claims on the estate, will present them to us for settlement." Pittsburgh Gazette, May 31, 1831, [p. 3]. 96050918. [view source]patterson-colwell